DT 30502 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 30502

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 30502

Hints and tips by Mr K

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BD Rating  -  Difficulty *** Enjoyment ***

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the first Friday of 2024. Today’s enjoyable puzzle uses all letters except X in the grid fill, which suggests that it’s the work of regular Friday setter proXimal. Good fun, and I found the difficulty level about right for a Friday. 

In the hints below most indicators are italicized, and underlining identifies precise definitions and cryptic definitions. Clicking on the answer buttons will reveal the answers. In some hints hyperlinks provide additional explanation or background. Clicking on a picture will enlarge it or display a bonus illustration and a hover (computer) or long press (mobile) might explain more about the picture. Please leave a comment telling us how you got on.

 

Across

1a    Out of many directions, soldiers returned in formal line beside lodgings (4,3,8)
FROM ALL QUARTERS:  In FORMAL from the clue the abbreviation for some usual soldiers is reversed (returned), and that’s then followed by the single letter for line and the soldiers’ lodgings 

9a    Distress when a French copper cuts foot (7)
AFFLICT:  Follow A from the clue by an informal French word for a policeman (copper) inserted in the abbreviation for foot 

10a   Various waterfowl close to lake (7)
DIVERSE:  Some duck-like waterfowl with the final letter of (close to) LAKE

11a   Wood like dog's brought back (5)
BALSA:  The reversal (…s brought back) of the fusion of a synonym of like and the contracted informal name for a breed of dog 

An 11a model plane

12a   Swimming in her pond is a mood booster (9)
ENDORPHIN:  An anagram (swimming) of IN HER POND 

14a   Cook rhubarb with fish? That's revolutionary (6)
DOCTOR:  Rhubarb or rubbish and a usual fish are joined and reversed (revolutionary

16a   Padded copper ring with gleaming exterior (8)
CUSHIONY:  The chemical symbol for copper is followed by the ring-shaped letter that’s been inserted in a synonym of gleaming (with exterior

18a   Urges to grasp core of definitive disciplines (8)
PUNISHES:  Urges or encourages containing (to grasp) the central pair of letters in (core of) DEFINITIVE 

19a   Ball that's targeted article by large canine (6)
JACKAL:  The small white balls that’s a target in the game of bowls is followed by grammatical article and the clothing abbreviation for large 

21a   Stickybeaks in conversation care about lottery (5,4)
PRIZE DRAW:  A homophone (in conversation) of a verb synonym of stickybeaks is followed by the reversal (about) of care or protection 

25a   Multitude of cycling heats (5)
SWARM:  Cycle the letters one place in heats or makes hotter 

A 25a of cats

27a   Posh folk taken from Paris to Sicily (7)
ARISTOS:  The answer can be found hiding in (taken from) the remainder of the clue 

28a   Parts of plants  sustained energy (7)
STAMINA:  A double definition. The plant part makes pollen 

29a   Roughly nine letters Matt is sending to Coventry (6,9)
SILENT TREATMENT:  An anagram (roughly) of NINE LETTERS MATT 

 

Down

1d    Type of lorry winged beast escaped, so Spooner says (7)
FLATBED:  Exchange the initial sounds  (so Spooner says) in a cave-dwelling creature with wings and a synonym of escaped 

A Cat on a 1d truck

2d    Not running, aluminium internal parts (5)
OFFAL:  A short word for “not running” with the chemical symbol for aluminium 

3d    Stirrers from Costa no cost -- gratis to put another way (9)
AGITATORS:  An anagram (put another way) of A (COSTA minus (no) COST) and GRATIS TO 

4d    Machine that turns coffee making low temperature hot (5)
LATHE:  In a milky coffee drink written vertically in the grid, replace the lowest instance of the physics symbol for temperature by the single letter for hot (making low temperature hot)

5d    Funds removed from banks I had cancelled (5)
UNDID:  FUNDS minus its outer letters (… removed from banks) with a contraction for “I had” 

6d    Partygoer comparatively bold removing top (5)
RAVER:  Comparatively bold or more courageous minus its first letter (removing top

7d    Digging Eastern illustrations around hotel (9)
EARTHWORK:  Follow the single letter for eastern with a (3,4) term for illustrations containing (around) the letter represented in the NATO phonetic alphabet by hotel 

A Cat digging

8d    Writers Laurence and Laurie discussed in rigorous way (7)
STERNLY:  Hompohones (discussed) of the surnames of Laurence the author of The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy and Laurie the author of Cider with Rosie 

13d   Casino built outside Italy's capital city (7)
NICOSIA:  An anagram (built) of CASINO containing (outside) the IVR code for Italy 

15d   Merry prisoner court dismissed on the bottle (9)
CONVIVIAL:  A prisoner who has been found guilty minus the map abbreviation for court (court dismissed) is followed by  a small cylindrical glass bottle often used for medicines 

17d   Advantage in competition from loaf, singular baked item (4,5)
HEAD START:  Join together what loaf can mean informally, the single letter for singular, and a baked item that’s a like a pie without a top 

18d   Albatross regularly following sound from cork trees (7)
POPLARS:  The sound of a cork being removed or how a weasel goes is followed by alternate letters (regularly) of ALBATROSS 

20d   Roast meat put with reduced wine (7)
LAMBAST:  A type of meat that goes well with mint sauce followed by all but the last letter (reduced) of a usual white Italian wine 

22d   Consumed all contents from set rate menu (5)
EATEN:  What remains after the outer letters are deleted from (all contents from) SET RATE MENU 

A cat that has 22d

23d   Further test son's taken in two subjects (5)
RESIT:  The genealogical abbreviation for son sandwiched between abbreviations for two school subjects R[eligious] Education] + S[on] + I[nformation] T[echnology] 

24d   Superfluous part of garment, we're told (5)
WASTE:  A homophone (we’re told) of the part of a garment that fits around your middle 

26d   A bathroom fixture lacking base and stand (5)
ABIDE:  A from the clue with all but the last letter (lacking base, in a down clue) of a bathroom fixture that is, I believe, more often encountered across the Channel 

 

Thanks to today’s setter. My favourite clues were 14a and 5d. Which clues did you like best?


The Quick Crossword pun:
Top Row:  WHO + DEE + KNEE = HOUDINI
Bottom Row:  MEGA + SIT + TEE = MEGACITY


117 comments on “DT 30502
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  1. I expect a challenge on a Friday but this was a real Everest to conquer. Yet another Toughie masquerading as a Friday back-pager – how many weeks have we being saying this? Many potential solvers are going to be discouraged by a Cryptic with this degree of difficulty.

    Only one answer on the first pass but gradually gained a foothold in the SW and eventually completed by using every electronic app and website available. A real sense of achievement to complete despite what some regard as cheating.

    Favourites 9a (when the penny dropped), the clever 2d and 7d.

    Thanks to the setter for the test and to Mr K for the hints

            1. I got there in the end but it was hard work. I think the DT is losing sight of the fact that it is because it is a more accessible cryptic puzzle that the regulars choose it. I’ve done it for 40 years because it was solvable in my shortish work breaks. Recently I’ve had to come back at it in the evenings. There’s nothing to distinguish these from other broadsheet puzzles. Maybe I’ll come back when I retire in 7 or 8 years.

    1. Totally agree. I have stopped attempting the Friday cryptic now, it’s just too disheartening. I have to wonder why there is even a separate Toughie if the Friday cryptic is at this level of difficulty.

      1. And I disagree. I enjoy the challenge of the more difficult puzzles. I get much more satisfaction from something like today than from a * or ** puzzle.

        As I understand it puzzles have for a long time been of different levels of difficulty. Long may it continue. I don’t want constantly simple puzzles, that’s why I subscribe to the puzzles app and to BD.

        Someone who was complaining recently about puzzle difficulty commented that people don’t complain when the puzzles are too easy. That’s at least partly because of BD’s guidelines which are designed to not discourage newer solvers. There may well be such comments otherwise.

        I also disagree that this was the same as a toughie. In my experience the latter employ far different constructions and are often way too hard for me.

        I appreciate others have different views and are keen to try to persuade the puzzles editor to make things easier. I feel i should put my side of the debate into the mix.

        1. I don’t think the argument is that Friday shouldn’t be difficult, we know that they get harder through the week. Puzzles such as this are so out in la-la land, they make no sense to those of us who are not members of MENSA. Of course there are those, such as yourself, who are brainier and want something more demanding, voilá, let me introduce you to the Toughie. We’ve had some very tricky Fridays that have been a joy to solve, few and far between I admit, and I think the majority of us would welcome them back.

        2. Banksie, I have been doing these puzzles since 1969, and I know they get tougher as the week moves along. The point is they are now as tough as the Toughie which is driving us away. If the cryptic is too simple for you, you have the Toughie option. We have no other option. That’s the plain and simple fact.

        3. I’ve being doing the DT for 40 years. There was the odd toughie level puzzle but Giovanni would never have regularly set puzzles at this level.

            1. I remember having the odd moan about the numerous ecclesiastical references in his puzzles but I’d have them back in a heartbeat.

          1. Add me to the 40 year club! I’ve almost given up on Friday’s now, some of the Tuesday Toughies are easier and more enjoyable. Depends what you want from a crossword, I suppose.

      2. Ciaran, I have been saying that for ages. Fridays have definitely become a two Toughie day, leaving nothing for us lesser mortals. Anybody who finds the Cryptic too easy has the Toughie to turn to, but where do the rest of us go? DT does not seem to care.

        1. No they don’t. This puzzle was not as hard as a toughie, as i have said. I managed it, eventually, but i rarely finish a toughie. See also MG comments above.

          I am fed up with a small number of people persistently using this site as a vehicle to try to affect the DT’s thinking.

  2. I agree with DaveP, a real head scratcher. I was only able to finish by taking a break for a ‘Magnum Caramel Duet.’ ****/****

    Candidates for favourite – 1a, 28a, 15d, and 20d – and the winner is 15d.

    Thanks to pro_imal and Mr K.

  3. Just three stars for difficulty? righto chum. I found this one VERY tough, and only got two on the first read through. Stuck at it through sheer belligerence more than anything and eventually made it to the end albeit taking twice as long as most puzzles.
    Only realised towards the end that we were on for an Xless offering, which helped with 1a.
    Many favourites today, but as per my rule will name just two, 1d and 19a. Well done Mr setter, fantastic fun.

    1. I agree, jolly hard but was determined not to be beaten and in the end only needed hints for 7d and 25a. Phew.

  4. is 1a right – I couldn’t quite get the parsing of the FORMAL bit – is it abbreviated with reversed soldiers inside and the abbreviation for Line.

    Great crossword BTW.

    1. I think you have to reverse the abbreviation for some junior soldiers in the word Formal to get to where you need to go.

    2. If I understand you correctly, then yes: the 2-letter abbreviation for soldiers within ‘formal’ is reversed, add the abbreviation and then the synonym.

  5. Quite hard but very fairly clued IMHO, with 26d my final entry, and, surprising myself, 1d, the dreaded Spoonerism, my favourite. I suspect this puzzle will bring a fair number of complaints about difficulty, but we only improve our solving skills through perseverance and, where necessary, making use of the excellent hints to understand the clues.

    Many thanks to proXimal and Mr K.

  6. With 1a being a “write-in-while-reading” clue I evidently tuned-in to the setter’s wavelength from the off, for I found this a tremendous puzzle, light, straightforward & swift for a Friday – with the exception of my protracted blindness in seeing 27a, which took me over 1* time. Absolute cracker of a challenge, the best inside- or back-pager of the week. All so very fairly clued – very much “follow the instructions”, with so many great surfaces. Ticks everywhere, so will confine to 9a, 10a, 27a (it was a real Doh! moment when that wood was seen among the trees), 22d & 26d.

    1.5* / 4*

    Many thanks to the setter / ProXimal, and of course to Mr K and all his kittyporn.

  7. What a struggle this was. Only managed it by checking my answers/thoughts with the Telegraph website .
    Still unsure of the parsing of 1a…or even sure it is a common phrase….

    So, not good for me today.

    Thanks to the setter and to Mr K….great pics as always.

  8. Unlike some I did enjoy this today, I had to work for it but was satisfied with the effort as progress was made.
    I was hit with a new one in the parsing of 9a for which I needed Mr K’s help, but then my knowledge of French slang is slight to non existent…
    I thought 22D a clever clue but my podium today was 1A, 27A and 3D with the former taking the honours.
    Thanks to mr K and to Proximal

  9. Found this Friday puzzle tough to get going. SE last area completed.

    2.5*/3.5*

    Favourites include 1a, 29a, 1d, 2d, 3d & 22d – with winner 26a

    Thanks to setter & Mr K for hints/blog

  10. Very enjoyable as is the norm with this setter – thanks to Mr X and Mr K.
    The clues which made it through the heats and took the medals were 14a, 25a and 26d.

  11. My word, what a challenge! Managed to finish in double-breakfast time, but with some (ie a lot of) e-cheating. On the other hand parsing was straightforward – apart from 23d, for which thanks to Mr K. (Back in my day we called it ‘Divinity’ and we’d not heard of this technical stuff – though I did work in that industry for 35 odd years!)
    Took a long time to get 9a, as having lived there (here) for 50 years, I tend to call them ‘Monsieur’, at least to their faces!
    Liked 14a, 16a, and 5d..All 1st equal!
    Many thanks to Proximal and to Mr K for the blog and 23d.

    1. We had a 26d fixture in our first flat – great for storing wet washing before hanging. But have had to live without one for the last 25 years or so…

  12. Strange experience with this one. We only got 4 of the acrosses but then got all but 2 of the downs – how does that work?

    Fav for me was the spoonerism which does actually work.

    Thanks to Mr K and proXimal.

  13. A really good puzzle with sublime surfaces providing an enjoyable solve. But a bit too mild for a Friday – I like a stiff challenge to end the week with. Favourites today: 29a and 26d. 2.5*/3.5*.

  14. That was a splendid test of my crossword ability that I passed bit not with ease.

    I don’t often get the Spoonerism without any letters but it was first answer. The synonym for lodgings took me forever. Further to what Tipcat said about 1a, I do need to make a mental note of potential pangrams and Proxy’s version as I ain’t in the habit of doing it.

    The alternative spelling of the plural of plants is truly bonkers. Adding an s makes sense but adding an a and changing the e to an i…..what, on God’s earth, is that all about? I’m reasonably clued up with words and can get my head around words like genus becoming genera but this one is massively left field….isn’t it? Maybe someone can enlighten me.

    As a side note, I couldn’t help but chuckle when I saw the word embiggen yesterday as it has so many ‘Carry on…’ connotations.

    My well-contested podium is 9a, 14a and 26d.

    Many thanks to Proximal and Mr K.

    3*/4*

  15. Certainly the toughest of the week but, heck, it is Friday and ’twas very doable. I expect some chew and I got it. Some lovely, clever clues. Stickybeaks was new to me but all well and good. 14a tickled me but surprised to see that awful word in 16a get a reprise. I thought it was excellent. My only (very minor) quibble was the “Costa no cost” in 3d. Super surface and scrupulously fair but the “cost” deletion did make it a gimme. I’d have liked a synonym to add some extra bite but that may just be me! Many thanks to ProXimal(?) and Mr K, of course.

    1. My references say that “stickybeaks” is Australian. Where is the hue and cry bemoaning the unidentified foreign term?

  16. Probably just as well I didn’t tackle this over breakfast, certainly needed to wait for the engine to be ticking over strongly before taking on the challenge. Although I got satisfaction from having completed the puzzle, I wouldn’t say that I particularly enjoyed the very bumpy ride. Top three here were 10a plus 20&26d.

    Thanks to proXimal and to Mr K and the felines for the review.

  17. That was definitely a slog for me, albeit a very enjoyable one. Hats off to those who found it insufficiently challenging. It took me quite a while to see 1a, which always seems to affect the rest of the puzzle for me. I may have made more rapid progress had I realized we were looking at an almost pangram before I solved 19a, in the last quarter of the puzzle to yield. No overall favourite today. 21a, 1d and 26d share the podium. Thanks to Proximal and Mr K.

  18. I found this to be quite kind for a Friday. Having said that, I did get 20d wrong having thought the clue word was ‘wine’ and wrongly parsing it to my misplaced satisfaction.
    My favourite was 14a followed by 22d.
    I thought 1d was a US term, but a quick Google, post non-completion, showed it is not. It does bring back memories of this, though:

    Thanks to the setter and for the hints.

  19. That was a tussle. I got bogged down with the wrong answer inserted for 28a which needed Mr K’s hint for 20d to get me back on track. Bit of a reality check after the relative ease of the previous few days. Cotd for me was 15d. Thanks to ProXimal and Mr K.

  20. 5*/3*. This was very tough in parts and, although I normally enjoy proXimal’s puzzles, this one was a bit of a curate’s egg for me with some uncharacteristically unconvincing surfaces. There was also a strange unindicated Antipodeanism to unravel in 21a.

    26d was my favourite.

    Many thanks to proXImal and to Mr K.

      1. I’m in my mid 50s and have never lived in Oz/NZ, but stickybeak has been a familiar term for busy-bodies, nosey-parkers etc since my childhood, such that I didn’t bat an eyelid on seeing it here.

        There seems to be no uniform requirement for geographic indications even in the DT, let alone more widely – they are reasonably frequent in the backpager, rare in the Toughie, and almost unheard of in The Times. I’d be interested to know what the treatment is like in the Graun & FT.

        1. I quickly looked through about 10 FT crosswords and I didn’t notice any American or Australian words. They used French words quite a few times, but indicated them each time. I think the general principle in the DT on this is fairness to the solver, which might be consistent from the editorial point of view, but it might look inconsistent to the solver. As with much of the foreign slang, I’ve never heard ‘stickybeaks’ used, but then there are strong local dialects around where I live that foreign slang doesn’t seem to pierce. Whereas, presumably, the setter / editor has heard it used enough times in the UK to think it’s fair to use it in a UK paper.

        2. Having just checked Chris Lancaster’s book, this says “Wherever a non-English word is used, it will normally be indicated as such, either by referencing the country from which the word originates or a well-known city from that country. So, if the solver is expected to use the word ‘rue’, the French word for ‘street’, in a clue, this may be signified by a phrase such as ‘French street’, ‘street in Paris’, or similar. This also applies to definitions; so, if the word ‘faucet’ were used as an answer, the definition would normally make it clear that the solver is looking for an American word. The exception to this is when a non-English word has passed into normal use in English, for example ‘apres-ski’ or ‘avant-garde’.”

  21. We managed the western side of the guzzle quite speedily but came to a halt in the east. Extremely satisfying to have finished it, it was hard. Could not sleep last night and at about 4am finished the toughie helped by a hot chocolate and digestive biscuit. Speaking of which the chocolate bait and the biscuit bait had gone this morning. Does that mean a rat after all? Or mice? It is very worrying. Mr K – you excelled yourself felinely, I really wanted to do some tummy tickling. Not yours – the cats. 12a favourite, many thanks to Messrs Setter and Hinter. Only 51 weeks to Christmas!

    1. Is he a proper rat man DG? Ours used poisoned bait and he was dressed like a spaceman with all this protective gear on but he certainly got rid of them. I was a bit worried as we have a weasel or a stoat, that lives under next door’s shed and runs around in our garden and I didn’t want him to be poisoned as he (or she) is a good mouser.

  22. I think Dansword must be red hot today. This was way beyond my abilities, but, really, why does Friday have to be this hard? I only solved three and gave up, it just didn’t appeal, far too obtuse for entertainment. My suggestion to Telegraph Towers is to junk the Toughie altogether, save some money, after all you’re duplicating the Toughie every Friday anyway.
    Thank you Mr. K for my kitty fix, at least I got something to enjoy.

    1. I also got three and gave up. I do these crosswords for fun, there was no fun in this. Do you suppose the DT actually reads what we say? I subscribe to the DT, if the crosswords I do for fun(!) carry on being this unpleasant, I could save myself a lot by finding a cheaper alternative.

  23. Tough, had to google the Australian-ism + didn’t like 16a, probably is a word but not one I can ever imagine hearing or even reading….nonetheless, I enjoyed the challenge so thanks to all

  24. Well, well, well. I started this off in bed with my cuppa – after 45 minutes or so I had managed to solve 6. It took me absolutely ages to finish this and there were several bung ins which proved correct but more by accident than skill. Thanks to Mr K for the lovely kitty pics. After setting fire to my wheat bag in the microwave a few days ago I have been reluctant to use it but I did heat up some soup, standing well back with fire extinguisher in hand, just in case! All OK but I continue to be very wary.

  25. On first pass I got a total of four. I speeded up a bit after that then slowed to a crawl. Very tough indeed. I guessed the meaning of stickybeaks but I had come across the French coppers in a toughie some time ago. More satisfying to complete than enjoyable. On the plus side I did manage to parse everything which is not always the case. Favourite was 8d. Thanks to ProXimal and Mr. K.

  26. A demoralising DNF for me but hey-ho, Monday is another week and hopefully some more doable, for me, puzzles.
    Of those I managed, I did like 17d and 18d.

  27. Boy, that was tough! I persevered, though and managed an unaided finish. This is the first time I have solved five puzzles in a row unaided so feeling rather chuffed. 😊

    I only managed one after the first pass and on the second I put in a couple that were wrong. I eventually found this out when I solved a few crossers. Plenty to like and my COTD is the hotel with Eastern illustrations at 7d.

    Huge thanks to proXimal for the mental workout. I am so glad I persevered with it. Thank you, Mr K for the hints and feast of pusskits.

  28. A late solve for me as now back to work. I’m in the tougher than *** for difficultly camp but I wasn’t particularly switched on & took far longer than I would expect to peg a good number. 1d&7a were my last two in & the pennies took an embarrassingly long time to drop. Thought there were some cracking clues here – 4,7,8&15d the standouts for me.
    Thanks to proXimal & to Mr K whose review I’ll now read.

  29. That’s it then, I’m giving up on Fridays, they are just ridiculously too tough. The DT should just fess up and list two Toughies on Fridays and no Cryptic. I could blame it on my head cold, but I know it is not that, although a nice paramedic team did take me to the hospital yesterday. Negative for Covid, Flu and Strep, and back home 5 hours later. On the other hand it took me 6 tries to get Wordle so perhaps it is the cold ☺️. I’ll invest my time more wisely today with the saved Rookie or NTSPP. Thanks for the pictures Mr K, best thing about Fridays.

    1. I beat you to it BL. I stopped trying the Friday crossword some weeks ago, life has other things to offer than wasting time on something too complicated to give me any pleasure. I just look at the explanations, thanks to those who provide them on Friday, and still find the answers so convoluted that I am thankful that I did not bother.

  30. Like others I found this tough, but also welcome what is now the usual Friday cognitive workout … whilst adding a new name for a lorry to my long list! Thank you Mr K and proXimal

  31. Good evening

    I have no objections to a tougher challenge on a Friday, even though I found it hard to get started. I stared at the grid for ages trying to find a way in, enjoyed a brief burst of productive solving, stared again and again, and all but hoyed the sponge in when it came to the SE quadrant, whereupon a sudden dropping of the
    penny occurred, and 25a, 20d, and finally 19a fell into place.

    Several contenders for COTD: 9a & 18a (note to self: look for verbs not nouns!); 14a, 21a (stickybeaks, indeed! Crikey!!); 19a, and the winner: 15d.

    Many thanks to proXimal and to Mr K.

  32. This was the equivalent of a typical neuron deprived PE qualified primary teacher setting a marathon for Year 6 pupils’ contribution to sports day.

    Thanks to Proximal for ensuring I have a crossword free day on Fridays and to Mr K for unravelling this monstrosity of a supposed crossword for general readers.

    Only comment I feel able to make without contravening the rules of civilised discussion.

    1. Thanks for dropping in, and thanks for a challenging and enjoyable puzzle to solve and to blog.

      Thanks also to everyone who has commented today.

  33. We finished this, and enjoyed it, but I don’t understand the homophone aspect of stickybeak. I know it means a busybody.

  34. Hard but just, I too am back at work and an early start to get Mama Bee to her various appointments meant it took several stints, the last few going in as I soaked in the tub after a busy day
    The ball at 19a almost eluded me but I remembered it eventually before my toes got crinkly

  35. Tough but fun. I use the app, and had to use the comfort blanket of “check answer is correct” a couple of times to give me the confidence to continue. With that and having to do some googling around authors – having got stuck with DH Lawrence (not Laurence!) for a while – then I can’t claim a true completion, but I’ll take it given it’s a Friday!

    Have a lovely weekend, all.

  36. I found this an absolute stinker and quite beyond me
    Since when has “stickybeaks” been in common usage? I’ve never previously heard it.
    Isn’t one Toughie enough on a Friday that we need another?

    1. According to Mustafa, it’s been in his common usage vocabulary for the past 50 years, what do you mean you’ve never heard of it?!

  37. I well and truly struggled with today’s puzzle but as so many have already said it is a Friday. I got one on the first pass with a couple of maybe’s. Thereafter, I kept breaking off to deal with the Christmas decorations and returning, hoping to be more refreshed and getting a few more. Many thanks to Proximal for the earnest challenge and to Mr K for the much read hints and brilliant kitty pictures. Now I need to lie down in a darkened room!

  38. Well above my pay grade and a tremendous struggle, even with the hints and any other electronic help I could get my hands on. I am starting to fear opening the crossword on a Friday! I agree with JB about “stickybeaks” – is that even a real word? Anyway, thanks (I think!) to proXimal, and to Mr. K without whom I would have been completely lost.

  39. Found this quite hard as have others . I’m about half way through – been busy today , so dipped in and out a few times. and may not finish tonight as am busy ,so will lose my winning streak run on the app. Ah well ! I loved the stickybeak clue. Sounds like today is Proximal .? – I ll add that to my setter notes . Last week I recall was a hard one too , but I managed to finish within the day. Thanks Steve C and Mike P for your comments about setters. Thanks to Proximal and Mr K who’s hints I will no doubt refer to at some stage.

  40. Wow, quite the challenge today. Managed to finish unaided other than checking the obscure authors in 8d. Also had never heard stickybeaks before.

    Despite quarter being part of my appointment title, 1a took ages to solve.

    Off to do the toughie, it will be a doddle after this beastie!

    Thanks to all.

      1. I wish! To be as rich as him would be fabulous. I could probably cope with being married to a supermodel too…

  41. Many thanks to Mr. K, without whom i would have been unable to unravel much of this particularly tough back pager. Reassuring to see that I am not alone in finding todays very challenging. If this is only a 3 star for difficulty I’d rather not spend time attempting to solve 4 and 5 star difficulty ones .

  42. Nobody else going to mention Cushiony ??

    I suppose you can make many nouns adjectivey if you want, but it seems a bit weak.

  43. This was definitely challenging but not as impossible as many seem to have found it. South yielded first then sticky North followed later in the day. I agree with RD re some rough surfaces. 21a stickybeaks meant absolutely nothing to me. Like Lurker no longer Divinity was the subject in my school days and there certainly was no IT so 23d was a bung-in. The 26d bathroom fixture was de rigueur in the 70´s and 80´s but for some reason went out of fashion here. 15d Fav if not somewhat knobby. Thank you proXimal and MrK.

  44. Wow. This was way too tough for me. I only managed to answer six clues 🤣

    I’ll keep trying this one over the weekend.

  45. It was far too late in the day to give this a proper go but I can never leave a puzzle unfinished. I managed over half and then having looked on here I realised it was proving tough for cleverer people than I so I decided to complete it with the hints.

    many thank to ProXimal for the challenge and to Mr K for the essential hints

  46. Difficult, but an enjoyable challenge. Almost got there unaided, but not quite …
    My son has just bought me ‘How to solve a Cryptic Crossword’ by Chris Lancaster (Telegraph Puzzles Editor). After working most of it out for myself, struggling with crosswords over the past few months, I am still finding the book very helpful (about halfway through at present) and am sure that newcomers would enjoy reading it.
    Many thanks to the compiler, all contributors and for the hints.

  47. Couldn’t finish this one. First time for ages….. I was fearing I may be losing my marbles but the blog helped me understand that it was just tricky. Thanks all!

  48. Well, we enjoyed it and didn’t find it too much of a mountain to climb. I think it helps that there are two of us, and two brains can address a problem in different ways. A few clues in the south-east were the last to go in. Not sure about the ‘stickybeaks’! Never heard that expression before.

  49. I first attempted this on the Friday. Got absolutely nowhere. Tried at various points yesterday and today but was only able to answer 8 clues.

    This was way too tough for my level of experience.

    I felt a little aggrieved at 9a. Am I really expected to know what an INFORMAL word for policemen is in French? Formal/proper, yes. But informal? I feel that was really too much. (FLIC?) Unless, of course I’ve misunderstood what the blogger was saying.

    However, I did manage to answer 8 clues. That’s better than none. 🤣

    Looking forward to Monday’s offering.

  50. I am sorry for those who found this tough but it seemed to me to be no harder than the average. I always try the toughie and occasionally get close to finishing it, and this was nothing like a toughie. Today’s toughie is rated 3* difficulty but I couldn’t get a single clue.

  51. Somewhat late to the party, but I found this puzzle a bit more accessible than recent Friday crosswords.

    On a side note, I do wish the words ‘while it lasted’ could be automatically redacted from comments. I find the expression very insulting!

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